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I had to take this back to the shop to fix it for you.
And now I've put it back where you can find it.



*

I want to write you a love poem,
Every woman wishes was written for her.
That men I don't know would oft recite
To brave the fear love suffers.

Would be a song in notes I cannot reach
Sung by an angel of dire consequence
Under ancient sun on a frozen beach
Where you best my last defense

With a kiss
Forever history.
I see it in your eyes.
You must have heard it, too.







Dear Beloved,

There are ghosts but we'd rather there weren't. It's easier to sleep if there aren't. No spooky places. No questions about forever. Time. God.

A few years ago I was in a pub in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the Royal Mile. It was an old place with an unattractive door. Filled with locals who weren't so much welcoming as tolerant two Americans had invaded their Friday evening sanctum.

I ordered a McEwan's sixty shilling ale. My boss had a double Cao Ila neat, water back. We sat at a small round table in the center of the place. It was noisy and full of smoke to the point I knew I was going to have to try to wash my clothes in the hotel sink before wearing them again. I might have even been making that point when my beer glass propelled itself off the table and landed about six feet off to my left, shattering into tiny pieces, flinging beer like inert napalm.

Neither of us had touched the glass.

"Did you kick the table?" I asked, and my boss pursed his lips and shook his head.

No one in the pub took note. The barkeep came out from behind the beer pulls with a broom. I told him I'd pay for the glass.

"No problem," he said, ignoring me.

"It just sort of flew off the table," I said.

"It's the pub."

"Excuse me?"

"It's the pub. It happens."

"No, I mean I didn't touch it. Not like I knocked it accidentally. I mean, look how far it went. I would have had to have thrown it..."

He poured me another glass and didn't charge me for it.

"It's the pub," he said. I didn't take my hand off the glass until I finished my beer, and my boss and I went on as if it hadn't happened. We never mentioned it to each other again.

A few weeks later when I was home and spoke about the incident to one of our engineers in Scotland he said that particular pub was haunted.

"Ghosts of people from the plague, or something."







This is called a villanelle.

I wrote it at the south pole

of the earth




The ice was vacant and cold but what did we feel?
Was it touch unexpected or could it be love?
When the wind held its breath and nothing was real.

On the point by the glacier, the ice's Catherine Wheel,
Race the shadows of your monogamous brown-gray dove,
There I breathe you a kiss we will never reveal.

There are hundreds in town who'd have taken the deal,
Alone in the valley but for the helos above
When the wind held its breath and nothing was real.

Did we take it too fast through Elysium's Ice Fields?
And then while separated by only the skin of our gloves
You breathed me kiss I could never reveal.

At a fata morgana temple we'd be blessed when we'd kneel
You wore a halo of sundogs you'd swept the sky of
When the wind held its breath and nothing was real.

We may hide in the world under civilized shield
But we're married in cold that with warmth must bleed love.
The ice was vacant and cold but what did we feel?
When the wind held its breath and nothing was real.








Beloved,

My daughter lives in a townhouse in the fields of Sonoma, California. The site of "The Grapes of Wrath". She goes to college amid acres of crops, mostly grapes. Her roommate has been talking to someone disembodied, or ne'er embodied. In that half-sleep before midnight he comes and stands over her.

"I've always been here."

"How come I never saw you before?" she asked him.

"You didn't want to. Until now."

My daughter has one of those spools of blank writeable CDs in her bedroom. The morning after the ghost appeared the CD spool was missing. They found it downstairs in the living room. All the CDs had been arrayed on the floor in a pattern.

"A crescent," she told me.

"Like crop circles," I said.

"Like that."





Saying my name

There's a girl on my pillow
A head full of yellow
Strands I'll be pulling
From my shirts
After she's gone and I'm
At work

There's a girl in my mind
On memory replay
Strands I'll be pulling
From my heart
After's she's gone and I'm
Alone in the cold

There's a girl with a word
On a whisper I hear
My name in the air
Dissolve in the night, salt on ice
When we've gone
The bed's unmade

She says my name.




Christmas Eve, 1983. My cousin had died at thirteen. Inoperable tumor on his brain stem.

We were having Christmas Eve dinner in the dining room at my parent's house. Lasagna. Bakala. Squid in maranara. Lobster tails and king crab legs. Scallops. Garlic bread.

Brothers and sisters. Grandparents and cousins.

It was our first Christmas in thirteen years without John and someone said his name.

There was a heavy mirror on the living room wall. It had been in my grandparent's house when my father was growing up and when my father said John's name it cracked. Sounded like someone had shot it with a pellet gun.

Then it crashed to the ground.

We looked at each other, because these things happen. And we left the mirror on the floor because it was too heavy for any one of us to lift.




What of dreams?

Above me an eagle's feather. A raven's feather. Bound together in gold and hanging from a thread tied to a dried stick of driftwood I found when we were walking on a beach just past the cedar forest. When I was a mariner I dreamed of home, of mountains that materialized out of the fog like the ghosts of forgotten earth, black, gray, and green, of the driftwood and the smell of sawdust, hiding in the rain we lay upon a bed of soft brown pine needles. After a kiss I pulled a feather from the moss beside you. Showed you. Brave me.

I might have been a fisherman. I might have lived at the shore. I may have signed onto a journey that brought me south until we could sail no farther. Onward to fame. Onward to glory, says the dream. Onward, and what the ice takes, it keeps.

You promised, says the ghost.

When I was a crewman I saw the ice; when I felt its monochromatic cold I prayed to take back the years I spent at sea. Because there is no glory in loveless space. I know that no good comes of a life from which we cannot return, from which I cannot feel your palms against my back, your breath against my cheek, and your voice borne on precious warm air.

When I was a seaman I recognized the eagle's voice welcoming me back to shore. When I was an explorer I stepped off the gray waters onto the land in the mountains' grip. The clouds parted the trees. I felt the cool green breath of the pines and smelled the damp forest floor -- your hair, I swear my love my final thought as I slipped into the ocean below the white was how small and golden you were coming from beneath the canopy of leaves and clouds, the owl's aerie. Like the sun was brought to earth and made home on the shore, waving as the sails unfurled committing us to the journey. Goodbye. When you were a ghost you whispered to me, "goodbye," from a century past.

One hundred years ago, on this day, I should have been aboard new land. I should have seen the ice devoured by the horizon's razor. I should have come back to our forest and trees and rain. I should have come back full of stories, to grow old by firelight.

But it's you who hands me the eagle's feather. It's you who reminds me the raven is the herald of death, powerless death, that cannot hold us any more than the ice can. These hang from the thread you tied to the ceiling, now, the lesson you kissed into me.

Once again, the ship docks. This time I am not the ghost.

This time I have escaped the ice. It runs through my veins because the trick, as all good ghosts will tell, is that to escape the ice, you must become it.

No better way to tell than to show you. I am born this story. I am born to write love a thousand times in once, carved in cedar bark among the trilliums and foxglove, below the aerie, where we began before ice time.





I want to live you a love
Every woman wishes was hers
Of which brave men would sing
When strengthening themselves for battle

It would be a life of trials won
Of kingdoms earned and gold-filled coffers
All declined when we were young
We grow old defying winter

Now I wonder
In the ice time
Did I find you?
Or was it you who rescued me?

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